U.S. files second trade complaint over B.C. wine in grocery stores

Issue of selling wine, beer and spirits in Canada has been a flashpoint for American producers

As dairy products, Bombardier aircraft and softwood lumber continue to bedevil trade relations between Canada and the U.S., negotiators will have to add wine to their list of issues to resolve.

The U.S. has filed a second complaint with the World Trade Organization over what it perceives as B.C.’s unfair rules regarding wine sales in the province’s grocery stores, according to a release from the WTO.

In the complaint, the U.S. argues that local wines have an unfair advantage in B.C. due to the province’s rules that ban imported wine from grocery store shelves.

The rules dictate that imported products are relegated to a “store-within-a-store” model, separate from B.C. products and therefore appear discriminatory and inconsistent with a WTO agreement, according to the complaint.

READ: Canadian wine is on NAFTA negotiating table

The U.S. first raised the issue in January, but according to the WTO website no dispute panel was established and they were not notified of either a solution or withdrawal by the parties.

“British Columbia’s discriminatory regulations continue to be a serious problem for U.S. winemakers,” United States Trade Representative spokeswoman Amelia Breinig said in an email. ”USTR is requesting new consultations to ensure that we can reach a resolution that provides U.S. wine exporters fair and equal access in British Columbia.”

The B.C. Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology and The Office of the United States Trade Representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The province’s previous trade minister, Shirley Bond, said the government will defend the industry against the challenge when it was first issued in January.

The issue of selling wine, beer and spirits in Canada has been a flashpoint for American producers for some time.

The U.S. government’s annual report on trade barriers highlights restrictions on listings, cost-of-service mark-ups, maximum or minimum price points, distribution policies, labelling requirements and making suppliers discount their prices to meet sales targets as areas of concern.

The report said the U.S. government is reviewing the situation in Ontario, where about 70 grocery stores are now allowed to sell both domestic and imported wine, under certain conditions that include country of origin.

It also suggested a recent move to allow Quebec wine to be sold in Quebec grocery stores could give craft wineries an unfair advantage.

The Canadian Press

BC Wine

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

DFO says the five aggrieved B.C First Nations were consulted on fisheries plan

Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations calls response ‘a sham,’ adding DFO never incorporates their views

Three active COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island

Since July 24, Central island has had five new cases, North one, South none

Canada can lead the way to save sharks from extinction, says fisheries expert

“Combined with fishing extraction numbers, sharks experience huge losses in the environment.”

Five Vancouver Island First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

Famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer brings movements of joy to Long Beach

Infamous dancer is exploring Vancouver Island, visiting the B.C. Legislature and other destinations

Man arrested after stabbing incident at makeshift camp near Vancouver Island mall

RCMP in Parksville report 28-year-old man taken into custody without incident

Canucks ride momentum into NHL playoff series against defending Stanley Cup champs

PREVIEW: Vancouver opens against St. Louis on Wednesday

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

One dead as fish boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

Landlord takes front door, windows after single B.C. mom late with rent

Maple Ridge mom gets help from community generosity and government

42 more people test positive for COVID-19 in B.C.

The province has recorded no new deaths in recent days

Joe Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

Harris and Biden plan to deliver remarks Wednesday in Wilmington

Lawsuit launched after Florida child handcuffed, booked and briefly jailed

Suit alleges “deliberate indifference” to what should have been handled as a behavioural issue

Most Read